Am I Normal?: Sexuality and Self-Questioning
Sex educators are often asked, “What’s the most common question you get from people?” and the answer is nearly always some variation on “Am I normal?” People are often very in-their-heads about sexuality, which is fueled by a sex-negative culture that discourages open, honest sex discussions – even with one’s sexual partner(s). As a result, people often hold on to questions out of fear or shame until they’re in a situation where they feel like they won’t be judged.
Sex geeks, whether they’re professional sex educators or not, often fill this role, answering the sex questions of their friends and acquaintances when their interest in sexuality surfaces in a conversation. Sex geeks I know frequently describe situations where they’re face-to-face with someone telling them, “I’ve never asked anyone this, but…” and what follows is very frequently an “Am I normal?” question. Logically, when someone’s given an opportunity to ask a sex question in a safe space, it will often be a request for validation, clarity, and/or understanding. The whole concept of “normal” sexuality is problematic for a number of reasons, but the desire to be accepted for what one is is near universal.
Having been raised with a fair bit of sex ed privilege, I’ve been able to get the vast majority of my sex questions answered by my mom or my older sister. The strongest feeling of “Am I normal?” I can relate to is about my boundless interest in learning about sexuality. When I was in my late teens/early twenties, I used to wonder if there were others like me, if I was weird, or just kind of perverted. When I met other sex geeks for the first time, I felt the same kind of validation that I imagine people feel when someone tells them there’s nothing unusual or shameful about their sex question – like I’m not alone and I’m OK.
Sex geek community is important for me for a variety of reasons, both professionally and socially, but it’s this emotional component that sits at the heart of why I’ve created Sex Geekdom.